Adorning an “I love the Mississippi Delta” lapel pin, Delta State President John M. Hilpert formally announced this year’s new University theme, “The Year of Delta Heritage,” during his annual State of the University address, held today on campus.
The address marked the start of Hilpert’s fifth year at the helm of the University, and the President’s first order of business - to formally introduce Delta State’s new year-long theme for 2007-08, the “Year of Delta Heritage.”
“This is our year to examine, celebrate and expand our awareness of Delta heritage. We’ve enjoyed and learned from the ‘Year of Cleveland’ and the ‘Year of Health and Wellness’ in the Delta. Now we will focus on and plan programs and other opportunities around the theme, the ‘Year of Delta Heritage,’” he proclaimed.
“What theme could be more appealing for the students, faculty and staff of an educational institution located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta? What theme could be more appropriate for a university community that bears the name of this region? What theme could be better targeted for our outreach to the people and communities that we serve,” Hilpert questioned.
Dr. Luther Brown, Director of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State, will serve as coordinator of the year-long celebration, and more information regarding the “Year of Delta Heritage” would be forthcoming, Hilpert reported.
Hilpert’s second order of business in his annual address offered an opportunity to highlight some of the many departmental accomplishments from the previous year, including just to name a few, satisfying the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools with assessment efforts for learning outcomes and completing the final step for this reaffirmation of the University’s regional accreditation; completion of a number of physical plant projects, including the Crawford Center, the Baioni Center, the Sanders Sculpture Garden and Kethley Hall; in the College of Education, the Athletic Training Education Program achieved its first discipline-specific accreditation recognition; and the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies won one of 130 Special Achievement Awards from the Environmental Systems Research Institute. Incredibly, there were more than 100,000 nominees. The Center also received grants totaling more than $1.4 million.
From the abbreviated list of accomplishments, Delta State’s seventh President lauded, “Virtually all faculty and staff at this institution obviously understand the sentiment expressed by John Kennedy, ‘Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.’ You are clearly determined that we won’t be second best as an institution.”
Next, Hilpert proclaimed the University’s state sound, strongly declaring, “The state of Delta State University is sound. Our graduation rate is near the top of our national peer group of institutions. Our budgetary bottom line is in balance. Enrollment is strong.
“State and federal policy makers – including our governing board – have a positive opinion of the institution,” he asserted. “We continue to maintain good relationships with the community and the region that we serve. And our peers in the broader higher education community affirm us as worthy of accreditation both discipline-by-discipline and as a university.”
From there Hilpert mapped out the 10 internal strategic directions of this coming year. The directions aid “much of our effort in managing the institution for the next 12 months,” he acknowledged.
He concluded his 40-minute delivery to faculty and staff with a poem from recent Pulitzer Prize winner and Mississippi native, Natasha Trethewey. She will be visiting the Delta State campus in October as a guest of the Department of Languages and Literature. Her poem, “Native Guard,” “kicks off our ‘Year of Delta Heritage’ pretty well,” Hilpert closed.
Classes at Delta State are set to begin Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 8 a.m. on the Cleveland campus.
For more information on any of the topics covered during the DSU State of the University address, please contact University Relations at (662) 846-4675.